⋙Cambodia’s Capital, Phnom Penh, was once considered to be one
of the jewels of all of Southeast Asia. The civil war and Cambodian
Genocide was hard on this city, and it’s still trying to fight it’s way back
to the status it once had. When Stacey and I first arrived we were a bit
surprised by it. It seemed dirty and rough around the edges, not far
from the truth, but we ended up really enjoying our time in this city.
The Streets of Phnom Penh
The streets of Phnom Penh were so much more hectic than Siem Reap,
which is what we had grown accustomed to, but we learned to play the
risky game, being bold and stepping out in the streets. When you
looked up at buildings from below you could see what was once
beautiful and exciting, but now looked a bit rough and outdated. I am
so excited to come back to this city in the future and I hope for the
best that it regains its former status.
The Royal Palace
Built in the mid 1800’s the royal palace is new compared to the long
history of Cambodia and its people. We didn’t go inside of the temple or
its grounds, but out in front is this park. People are sitting having
picnics, children were playing soccer & blowing bubbles and Stacey and
I strolled through enjoying its beauty and the sunset.
Wat Phnom quickly became a top site for me. I love Buddhism. I love
the teachings, the rituals, chanting and art that comes with it and make
it so beautiful and unique. Wat Phnom took blew all of my expectations
of these things out of the water. This was a treat for your
senses. I heard music & chanting, I could smell incense, I saw
paintings & statues and I felt the devotion & love. It was truly moving.
Wat Phnom sits atop the one hill in Phnom Penh and has been a holy
site since 1373 when a lady built a hill to place a Buddha figure she
found inside a tree floating down the river. About 60 years later, the
king had a proper Wat built (it has been built several times since). The
king’s ashes are in a stupa on the same hill.
Inside the main Wat is this beautiful room covered in paintings and
murals from top to bottom.
A few dozen figures of the Buddha in differe
nt shapes, positions and sizes sit on the alter area. Devotees leave
offerings of food, flowers, birds and money.
Just a look at some of the worship happening inside the temple.
This holy water, filled with flowers and their petals was drank by
devotees and sprinkled on their heads and arms. It was so beautiful to
This little shrine is for the woman who first built the little shrine to
Buddha atop this hill.
One of the most interesting offerings I saw being sold was birds. You
had them blessed and then set them free; this was supposed to bring
you good luck.
This beautiful woman with one of the warmest smiles, was seeling
these beautiful flowers to leave as offerings.
This truly ended up being a favorite stop in Cambodia and one of my
favorites of the trip. I loved being able to experience Buddhism in
practice, in Asia, for the first time. It was really beautiful and a moment
I will always remember.
The National Library
I read somewhere that their national library was worth visiting, and I
thought it might be fun to write there. It was like stepping back in time
with beautiful old cases containing card catalogs and narrow aisles
with books lining the shelves all around you.
The Central Market
The Central Market looks a bit like a Middle Eastern Bizarre and had
some of the best prices I saw on the entire trip. It was fun to go
through and pick up postcards to send home, I got a funky pair of
shorts and we got to explore the food market which was beautiful and
disgusting all at the same time.
Perfectly ripe fruits and veggies filled stalls…
…. Bowls of still-living squid and fish attacked my nose….
… Dried fish and other meats didn’t smell incredibly appetizing either,
but it was all still so beautiful. I’ve never seen colors together like this
This woman made for one of my favorite photos of this trip. I think she
has such a distant, but strikingly elegant look on her face. Almost of
longing; perhaps she’s day-dreaming.
The Night Market
Phnom Pehn’s night market wasn’t anything to get super excited about,
but the one thing I loved was right in front of the food stalls were all of
these funky-printed mats where people took their food and sat, picnic-
style, as a family and enjoyed their food. I thought it was super cozy.
Phnom Penh is a city that ended up surprising me. It’s
unpolished look, busy streets and extreme pollution turned me
off from it at first, but it had a lot to offer. It was interesting to
get to see aspects of the past / the city’s rough history, and
getting to see the direction that the city is going. I hope that it
regains its title as the jewel of Southeast Asia some day.
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